First Financial Honored with CUNA Diamond Award and SIAA Awards for Outstanding Marketing Achievements

Press Release

Use this photo - CUNA and SIAA 2014

Pictured above: First Financial’s Marketing Director Jessica Revoir (L) and E-Marketing Specialist Nicole Andretta (R) with the credit union’s recent CUNA Diamond Award and SIAA Awards.

First Financial Federal Credit Union was recently honored with an “Industry’s Best” Diamond Award in electronic marketing for their new member onboarding PURL (personalized URL) campaign called Welcome2First.

The award was administered by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Marketing & Business Development Council, a national network comprised of over 1,100 credit union marketing and business development professionals.  Awards are given in each of 29 categories ranging from advertising to community events and beyond.

“The Diamond Award competition is the most prestigious competition for excellence in marketing and business development in the credit union industry,” said Michelle Hunter, Chair of the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council, and SVP of Marketing & Development at Credit Union of Southern California. “Credit unions that receive these awards should be extremely proud of their accomplishments and know that their work represents the very best examples of creativity, innovation, relevance, and execution. The Diamond Awards are not easily earned and the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council is proud to honor those who are deserving of this recognition.”

In addition, First Financial was also awarded with two Silver Service Industry Advertising Awards (SIAA) – for their First Scoop blog and new identity theft protection products, as well as a Bronze Award for their new employee onboarding video.

Founded in 2003, SIAA is the only advertising awards program to specifically recognize the achievements of the service industry. Many other advertising awards feature consumer goods, packaged goods and other tangible products. The SIAA specifically recognizes the creativity and communication accomplishments of the service industry.

Nearly 2,000 entries were received in this year’s SIAA competition. A national panel of judges reviewed each entry for execution, creativity, quality, consumer appeal and overall breakthrough content.

First Financial also worked with Source4 business and marketing solutions in Parsippany, NJ; Grey Sky Films in Rockaway, NJ; and M2 The Agency in The Woodlands, TX on the above award-winning marketing projects.

Saving May be Tough but Here’s How to Get a Handle on It

saveGetting on top of your finances can be a tough task. On paper the idea sounds simple, but in real life, it’s easier said than done.

By the time you pay down your consumer debt, put a dent in student loans, pay off your mortgage, and put extra money away for your children’s college fund and not to mention your own retirement, the list of demands for your savings is long! Online tools and advice from financial advisors suggest we can make it work but we need to rethink our approach and strategy. Here are some ideas to help you manage your savings goals:

Get real. If retirement sounds far away and “a rainy day fund” sounds kind of depressing, it’s time to rename these goals. For short-term savings objectives, identify what you want to buy and decide whether it’s important for you to finally take that dream vacation you’ve always wanted, or send your kids to college. The same extends to retirement. What does retirement look like to you: a vacation house, writing a book, or doing volunteer work? Visualize it then put a picture on your fridge so you can actually see it. It’s recommended that you should identify how much money you want to have put away at various ages in your life. Sixty-five may be hard to visualize, but goals targeted to ages 30, 40, and 50 will shorten your timeframes, making them more measurable and do-able.

Get started. The decision to save is based on a cumulative series of well thought out choices. You tell yourself you’ll save tomorrow and tomorrow never comes. If you don’t save one month it’s not terrible, but a series of those choices over your lifetime has consequences. Starting early really pays off and online tools and calculators will make the concept more real and easy for you.

Make savings planning a family affair. Providing an inheritance to your children is also about passing down values. The money tips we teach our children can be beneficial or crippling, even when we say we want our children to be financially educated to manage their finances in the future. Don’t be afraid of having money conversations as a family and talk to your kids about savings goals, spending and savings trade-offs, and even higher-level concepts such as inflation and investing, keeps everyone budget conscious.

Put your savings on autopilot. Did you know that you’re losing out on a lot of money when you don’t contribute the maximum allowable amount to your retirement plan? By committing to increase your 401(k) contribution by a percentage equal to your yearly raise will help you grow your pre-tax dollars before the money even gets distributed. Putting a stop to your daily temptations is also important – avoid going to the mall, only carry a small amount of cash in your wallet or simply leave your credit cards at home to cut back on your spending habits.

Hold your feet to the fire. When you’re spending money, ask yourself if this is a need or a want? Making this a habit enables you to keep track of your purchases and helps analyze your spending. It’s a good idea to make your own consequences when you fail to abide by your commitments – so bet on yourself. For example, if eating out has put a huge dent in your wallet, say out loud that you’ll limit yourself to two dinners out a week for the next month and then stick to your plan!

Go social. Sharing money-saving ideas or picking up tips from free sites like Mint.com and Moneyning can help make the topic of finance more enjoyable. Maybe you may want to consider starting a friendly money-saving competition — it holds you responsible, will help you stick to your saving goals and helps take your mind off your struggles.

Here at First Financial, we encourage our members to come in at least once a year for an annual financial check-up – to sit down with a representative at any one of our branches to make sure you are currently placed in the correct Rewards First tier for you, and also that you are receiving the best value, products and services based on your financial situation. Give us a call at 866.750.0100 or stop in to see us today!

Click here to view the original article source by Barbara Minnino of Fox Business.

Learn How to Plan for Life Milestones at this Free Seminar in April 2014

will-lawyers-Montgomery-County-PA-life-milestones-for-estate-planningHave you wondered how you’re going to budget for life’s biggest events such as getting married, buying your first home, having a baby, and retiring? Attending this FREE First Financial seminar, you’ll learn how to properly plan and budget for these life milestones and receive information on different options that will work best for you.

At this seminar, attendees will learn:

  • How to plan for life’s milestones (i.e. marriage, house, children, retirement)
  • Life insurance policy options and why they’re important
  • What a living will is and why you need one

Join us on Wednesday, April 30th at 6:00pm for our “Planning for Life Milestones” Seminar, presented by the experts at First Financial, Peter A. Loffredo, Esq., and Daniel Ressegiue of Liberty Mutual Insurance. The event will be held at our Wall Office at 1800 Route 34 North, Building 3, Suite 302 in Wall. Space is limited, so make sure you sign up today!

Register Now!

Peter A. Loffredo, Esq. is an attorney who has been in practice for 22 years. He has a general practice office in Toms River, with a concentration in assisting individuals and businesses in real estate transactions. Other areas of practice include municipal court, landlord-tenant matters, litigation and the preparation of Estate Planning Documents, such as Wills, Powers of Attorney and Living Wills.

Daniel Ressegiue graduated from The Pennsylvania State University majoring in Psychology and business and is currently finishing an MBA at Monmouth University. During his tenure at Liberty Mutual, he has been awarded many awards including National Rookie of the year special recognition, 5 Time “Pacesetter,” Pursuit of Excellence and is a Liberty Lamplighters Club inductee. During his spare time, he enjoys staying active playing soccer, racquetball and partaking in long distance running competitions. He is also a member of Jersey Shore Runners Club, Penn State Alumni Association, as well as SCORE, a nonprofit entity dedicated to the mentoring of small business owners.

See If We Can Beat Your Current Auto Loan Rate by 2%!

2%AutoChallenge3

Take the 2% Challenge and Surf into Savings! Stop into any of our branches, apply online, or give us a call at 866.750.0100, Option 4 – to see if we can beat your current Auto Loan rate by 2%.

This offer is for a limited time only, so get started by taking the challenge today!

*Not all buyers will qualify – actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness. Loan to value ratio up to 125% based on credit score. A First Financial membership is required to obtain an auto loan and is available to anyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers, or attends school in Monmouth or Ocean Counties. A $5 deposit in a base savings account is required for credit union membership prior to opening any other account/loan. Cannot be combined with any other offer. **APR = Annual Percentage Rate. Rates as low as 1.99% for terms up to 36 months. For example, a $15,000 auto loan at 1.99% APR with a term of 36 months would have a monthly payment amount of $429.57.

 

4 Ways Scammers Can Steal Your Tax Refund

48d9f43eab68404d0dc0def19d14ba6dIdentity thieves LOVE tax season.

Any thief who has your personal information can easily file a tax return, collect the fraudulent refund and leave you waiting months to get your own refund back and clear up the issue. Unfortunately, it’s only getting worse – last year the IRS launched 1,492 investigations into tax-related identity theft, where criminals used stolen personal information like Social Security numbers to claim fraudulent refunds. That’s up 66% from 2012 and more than 200% from 2011.

Here are some of the ways scammers use to steal your identity and how to avoid becoming a victim.

1. Fake calls from the IRS. Last month, the IRS said a nationwide phone scam had swindled $1 million from consumers in what the agency called “the largest scam of its kind.” As part of the scheme, callers impersonating IRS agents told victims that they owed taxes and needed to pay by wire transfer or a prepaid card. Other scams are carried out through email, and ask for personal information like a Social Security number or birthdate — which can later be used to claim tax refunds.

To protect yourself, be wary of any correspondence from someone claiming to be from the IRS. The agency says it usually reaches out by mail, and it will never ask for personal information via email or phone. If you receive something questionable, reach out to the agency yourself and verify that it’s legitimate.

2. Rogue employees. Be careful about giving out your personal information. Don’t ever give away more personal information than you need to and don’t be hesitate to ask someone why they need any of your personal information.

Some tax preparers could potentially be a scam artist. To avoid being fooled, be wary of any preparers who charge fees based on the size of your refund and never let a preparer ask for the refund to be deposited into an account in their control rather than sent straight to you. To help you detect if you’ve been scammed, be sure to regularly monitor your bank accounts and credit card statements for any suspicious charges.

3. Data breaches. Data breaches occur when hackers break through a company’s privacy walls and access private customer information and scarily enough, it’s becoming increasingly common. Once that information is in a fraudster’s hands, it’s easy for them to file a tax return in your name. If you know or suspect that your information was compromised during a data breach, consider signing up for identity theft protection (see below) or start regularly monitoring your accounts on your own. Be sure to investigate any charges you don’t recognize, no matter how small they are.

Most of the time if someone has a stolen card, the thief will often test it with a small transaction first in order to see if the card is activated, to make a bigger purchase. And because there’s a good chance you will be more susceptible to identity theft after a data breach, make sure to strengthen your passwords utilizing at least 8 characters, including upper- and lower-case letters as well as numbers and special characters (!@#$%).

4. Snail mail. It’s not as common as online identity theft these days, but many fraudsters still use the old-school strategy of stealing mail from mailboxes to piece together the information they need to file a tax return in someone else’s name. Other times, thieves will go as extreme as dumpster diving – it’s a low-tech way to easily retrieve your information, so make sure you ALWAYS shred any personal documents.

Another easy way to protect yourself is to file early. Many scammers are able to get fraudulent refunds because they file before the victim does. If you file first, the IRS will be forced to investigate when a second return from the same person arrives.

LifeSizePennyDon’t wait until it’s too late! Check out First Financial’s ID Theft Protection products – with our Fully Managed Identity Recovery services, you don’t need to worry. A professional Recovery Advocate will do the work on your behalf, based on a plan that you approve. Should you experience an Identity Theft incident, your Recovery Advocate will stick with you all along the way – and will be there for you until your good name is restored.

Our ID Theft Protection options may include some of the following services, based on the package you choose to enroll in: Lost Document Replacement, Credit Bureau Monitoring, Score Tracker, and Three-Generation Family Benefit. To learn more about our ID Theft Protection products, click here and enroll today!*

*Identity Theft insurance underwritten by subsidiaries or affiliates of Chartis Inc. The description herein is a summary and intended for informational purposes only and does not include all terms, conditions and exclusions of the policies described. Please refer to the actual policies for terms, conditions, and exclusions of coverage. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions.

Click here to view the article source by Blake Ellis of CNN Money.

10 Things Every Car Owner Should Know About Vehicle Maintenance

bigstock_Vehicle_Safety_Checklist_14549357-460x250It’s hard to understand how much maintenance and upkeep a vehicle takes until you own one. First-time car owners are not always prepared for the many routine problems that they may need to fix, or know what to look for when a problem arises. Want to be a car owner that knows how to keep their vehicles in good operating condition? You should be able to:

  1. Check your Oil. Sure, you can always go to the shop – but knowing where the oil goes into the engine, how it drains, and how to check oil levels can help to prevent problems if you get sub-par oil service, or if the vehicle starts to burn or leak oil as it ages. Start by checking the owner’s manual to confirm the type and amount of oil that’s required, and how often the manufacturer recommends changing the oil for your model of car. Be sure to check your oil after the car is cooled down and use a rag to wipe the dipstick clean so that you will have a clear, accurate reading. The dipstick should have markings on it indicating a range for acceptable oil level.
  2. Change a Flat Tire. The generic guide to changing tires involves simply taking off the lug nuts, jacking up the car and swapping out the hub – but what many owners find is that, for practical use, the standard jack and tools that came with the vehicle may not make this job easy. That’s why it’s a good idea to get actual, first-hand experience before having to fix a flat by the side of the road – familiarize yourself with the tools and process before you find yourself in the real situation.
  3. Replace Windshield Wipers. Changing a wiper blade can be fairly simple, but drivers need to know which specific parts fit their model, and how to correctly attach the wiper blade to its housing. Different models of cars and blades require different types of mountings, so follow the instructions for your particular model, and once installed remember to clean them every so often to extend their life and effectiveness.
  4. Add Wiper Fluid. This is a simple task that can be completed simply by knowing where the wiper fluid reservoir is located in your car. Keep tabs on fluid levels and fill up as needed, because running out of wiper fluid on the road, particularly in winter weather conditions, can cause dangerous windshield streaking, freezing, and loss of visibility.
  5. Locate the battery. Another very good preparation for new car owners involves looking under the hood at where the vehicle battery is placed. Some batteries are easily accessible, while others are blocked by hoses or other interior parts. There may also be bolts holding a battery in place. Vehicle owners should also know the correct procedure for using jumper cables, if you don’t feel comfortable with the process; call a professional – as jump starting a car incorrectly can be dangerous for both you and your car. Each car is different, so check your owner’s manual for their recommendations and special instructions.
  6. Check your Tire Pressure. Ensuring correct tire pressure can help to avoid serious accidents, while also saving fuel. That’s why newer models have tire pressure monitors on the dashboard. Look in the owners’ manual or on the inside of the driver’s side door for the standard tire inflation pressure recommended for your vehicle type. Using an air pressure gauge, press the device evenly onto the valve stem for an accurate reading.
  7. Locate and Assess Belts. Serpentine belts, AC belts and other drive belts are essential for keeping vehicle systems going, but they do wear out over time. Most drivers go to a shop to get belts replaced, but knowing what to look for in terms of looseness, dry rot and other wear can help turn a major roadside emergency into a simpler fix. Knowing where the belts are located and what they look like in good working condition can help you pinpoint problem areas.
  8. Change a Car Light Bulb. Then there’s the array of little lights installed all over the vehicle – as the owner, you’ll probably have to start replacing these, one by one, at some point. Head lights, dome lights, brake lights and even license plate lights each have their own hidden bulbs, and finding all of the right crevices and connections can involve a little research, but are easy fixes that you can do yourself.
  9. Check Coolant Levels. Along with wiper fluid, engine oil and other essential fluids, coolant is something your vehicle needs to run. Sometimes, leaks or other problems can leave a car dry, which can cause major engine issues. Know where the coolant tank is and how to safely check it for proper levels and any cracks or leakage.
  10. Understand the Check Engine Light. A check engine light (CEL) often used to mean serious engine trouble, like a loss of oil. Today, many CEL lights come on because of new engine computer systems that sense a change in fuel-air mix or some other kind of operating ratio. Car owners who really understand what flags a CEL can more effectively handle a situation where this dash light suddenly blinks on during travel. Knowing all of the different options that can trigger this light with your particular car will help you assess the likely causes, and determine your course of action to get it fixed.

All of this research and preparation can help a vehicle owner save money and become better informed about what makes his or her prized set of wheels work properly. Comment below and tell us what other routine items are on your car maintenance checklist!

For more information and how Liberty Mutual Insurance may be able to help you save on your auto and home insurance, feel free to contact our Liberty Mutual representative, Dan Ressegiue or visit our webpage:

AgentDanielRessegiue

Daniel Ressegiue

303 West Main Street | Suite 100
Freehold, NJ 07728
732-308-3868 Ext. 50950
Daniel.Ressegiue@LibertyMutual.com
www.LibertyMutual.com/DanRessegiue

Daniel graduated from The Pennsylvania State University majoring in Psychology and business and is currently finishing an MBA at Monmouth University. During his tenure at Liberty Mutual, he has been awarded many awards including National Rookie of the year special recognition, 5 Time “Pacesetter,” Pursuit of Excellence and is a Liberty Lamplighters Club inductee. During his spare time, he enjoys staying active playing soccer, racquetball and partaking in long distance running competitions.  He is also a member of Jersey Shore Runners Club, Penn State Alumni Association, as well as SCORE, a nonprofit entity dedicated to the mentoring of small business owners. First Financial Federal Credit Union Client #38361

*Click here to view the article source provided by Liberty Mutual Insurance.